Dart Real Estate has added the luxury Ritz-Carlton resort to its extensive portfolio of properties in the Seven Mile Beach area.

The developer, which opened the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa late last year, still plans to build another five-star hotel and believes there is sufficient demand for Cayman to become the luxury travel destination of choice for the Caribbean region, according to company president Jackie Doak.

The long rumored deal for Dart to buy The Ritz-Carlton from alternative investment firm Five Mile Capital Partners LLC was finalized on Friday.

It will continue to be branded and operated as a Ritz-Carlton hotel under a long-term management contract.

Ms. Doak said, “It is a great asset to add to our portfolio and sends a valuable message of Dart’s commitment and confidence in the Cayman Islands.”

The purchase does not include The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, and Provenance Properties will continue to market and sell those real estate properties on behalf of Five Mile Capital Partners, LLC.

In the last two years, Dart has acquired the Beach Suites resort, the old Hyatt hotel, the Britannia golf course and the Royal Palms property, all along the Seven Mile Beach corridor.

It has also confirmed the purchase of nearly 300 acres on the North Sound, known as the Dragon Bay lands, previously held on a long-term lease agreement from government.

Ms. Doak said Dart was still developing its plans for those properties.

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman has been acquired by Dart Real Estate. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY

She said there was the possibility of some “synergies” between The Ritz-Carlton and Dragon Bay operations.

Ms. Doak said the company was committed to the Cayman Islands and has invested heavily in its future success.

Plans to build another five-star hotel, rumored to be a Four Seasons, next to the Kimpton, have stalled as Dart considers its response to a request for an environmental impact assessment on its application to remove beach rock from the shallow coastal waters bordering the development site.

Whether the development takes place at that site, or at a different location, Ms. Doak said Dart is committed to building another luxury hotel. She believes there is significant potential for further growth in the luxury travel sector.

“Tourism and financial services are the pillars of success and everything we do is focussed on the continuing growth and advancement of the Cayman Islands in those areas,” she said.

Alasdair Foster, president of Active Investments at Dart Enterprises, said Dart’s properties did not compete with one another, but worked together to bring new tourists to the Cayman Islands.

“The Kimpton was not designed to compete with The Ritz-Carlton,” he said. “It was chosen as a new operator that has a unique style that has allowed the market to grow as a whole. Having common ownership gives us the opportunity to focus on growing the market, bringing more people and new tourists to the island.”

Marc Langevin, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, said the Cayman Islands had the opportunity to position itself as the region’s luxury travel destination.

“The airport is going to be a key element, ensuring there are flights coming in and proper flight distribution. Demand for the destination is amazing,” he said. “We are booking now for 2019, for 2020. We are not concerned about competition. Every island has something different. We have room to be the luxury destination for the Caribbean.” Ms. Doak agreed that improvements in facilities at the airport were key to Cayman’s reputation as a high-end destination.

She said Dart’s acquisition of The Ritz-Carlton and its planned new five-star hotel would complement the work being done to enhance the airport and to attract tourists from new gateways.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. High end tourism is the the way to go. Like St.Barts for example.
    But with the Dump still here for the next 4 years and crime becoming increasingly brazen, this country won’t attract high-end consumers and drive-away those who’re already here.

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  2. It’s great that he wants to continue to develop on Grand Cayman but everything he’s building is for “luxury tourism”. With all his developments, Grand Cayman is losing it’s Caribbean essence. Only people that are going to even be able to afford to come here now are the wealthy.

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  3. In this story Jackie Doak expresses a belief that there is significant potential for further growth in the luxury travel sector. According to recent reports that seems to be true but those same reports did not identify the typical Cayman Islands beach holiday experience as one of the growth areas. In fact quite the opposite was the case. A report I’ve just read indicates that people who can afford to spend a lot of money on vacations are moving away from it in favour of exotic and adventurous travel options.

    Right now the cost of taking a holiday in the Cayman Islands has pretty much killed off UK/European tourism and it’s also having an impact on Canada, which has always been major source of tourist income in the past. With no significant new markets opening up this leaves us dependant on the USA for tourists and, as a number of other destinations have discovered to their cost, that’s a fickle market.

    The real all-year round earner in tourism at the moment, particularly for travellers from the UK and Europe, is the sensibly-priced all-inclusive option, which the Cayman Islands has turned it’s back on. If Dart are now hanging their hopes on creating a tourist boom from a luxury market that many experts say simply doesn’t exist someone there clearly hasn’t been doing their homework.

    The key element that everyone seems to miss is that there’s a huge difference between luxury or high-end tourism and a tourism product that is simply over-priced. You can build yourself the biggest, fanciest, most expensive hotels on the planet but if they’re in the wrong setting they will not attract guests and right now SMB is a heck of a long way from being the most attractive place in the Caribbean.

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  4. Laura and David , you’re both completely right in your comments , but the thumbs downers are coming after your comments . I don’t think that there’s any problems with the buttons but who touch them .

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  5. One good thing is that there is a bridge already across the West Bay Road connecting both parts of the hotel. Otherwise Dart would buy some of the road or build a tunnel like the totally unnecessary one now being built near the Royal Palms

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